For online students, the decision about PC choice is especially important. They will need it for all of their classwork—be it in nursing programs, language classes or accounting. No one wants to regret their computer purchase, so it’s worth it to know how to answer these questions:
- What type of devise: PC or Mac? Desktop or Laptop?
- What do you want the computer to do?
- How long do you want to have it?
- What’s your budget?
Before you make any decisions, it is important to know a bit about computers and their specifications. The basic ones are:
- RAM. (installed memory-the more memory the more applications it can run and the better it will perform. Certain software packages such as ones for mathematical analysis or video editing and web video capabilities will require more RAM.
- CPU (.called the processor and it will determine how fast the computer will perform tasks). Examples of good processors and Core Duo and Core 2 Duo.
- Size. The size of your computer describes its weight and the screen’s dimension.
- Hard drive. The hard drive is the storage space on your computer.
- Expansion bays/ports. Expansion bays/ports allow you to hook up a variety of hardware devices (eg, USB device, external hard drive, CD/DVD drive, etc,). These devices are great for freeing up space for new software. An optical drive helps you write CDs and DVDs.
PC or Mac?
- PC Advantage. A PC has a familiar user interface, is compatible with most programs, and is great if your budget is tight.
- PC Disadvantage. PCs have been known for its software problems
- Mac Advantage. Mac users often say Macbooks are easy to use and run very well.
- Mac Disadvantage. Macs are more expensive and require a few trips to the Apple store for maintenance
Desk Top. Having a desktop allows you to really invest in the system because it is stable and likely to be in a safe environment. You can get a large monitor, buy high-quality accessories (speakers, optical mouse, etc), and bulk up its computing power. How long you want to keep the computer. For a woman who plans to hold onto a high-functioning laptop for several years, the purchase is well worth the investment, and it’d be wise to set a higher budget with some wiggle room for additional accessories.
Laptops. Laptops nowadays can offer you similar or greater computing power in terms of processor, storage, and memory, but it comes with a bigger price tag. Of course, its portability and size can make a student’s life much easier. Cheap laptops or netbooks can handle a great deal. For a student who uses MS Office, streaming video, internet, and software packages for schoolwork, a netbook can function well, multitask many processes, and you don’t even miss the widescreen. A notebook is also a great option if you expect your education will leverage you into a job with a higher salary. You can buy a computer for temporary needs, and then buy a better one once you get a job or a salary raise. So, it’s important to think about this purchase in a bigger context—to see how this computer can fit into your life and where you expect to be later on.
Price. There are various ways to fund this need. If you know ahead of time, you can request a larger student loan and use the loan refund to ease this hefty school-year expense. If there’s a time constraint, certain strategies can help a student buy a computer. Campus-specific discounts, online coupons, and seasonal sales (i.e. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, post-Christmas, etc.) can give you access to great deals on computers and software packages. Buying directly from the supplier can also allow you to customize features and avoid charges. It is also possible to buy computers second-hand, though it is important to assess the purchase as well as the store.
Healthcare student. A healthcare student would need to watch tutorials and procedures on video so she’d prefer higher RAM. If she also plans on storing a great volume of data on her computer, like large video files, it is recommended to have 200 GB of hard drive space and an external hard drive.
- Journalist student. A journalist student would probably prefer to pay more laptop screen size and portability than for RAM.
- Regular student. MS Office, a few software packages and internet and specifications that would meet these students’ needs is the following: 1 or 2 GB of RAM, a good processor, and minimum 120 GB of hard drive space.
Security. Once you buy whatever you’ve chosen, you should install security on your computer and be smart. Keep it safe, back up your data, and take care of your computer—its battery life, processing power, etc